Personal Finance

[2019] What no-fee online bank is the way to go?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 5th, 2019 9:33 pm

Poll: Best online bank with a no-fee chequing account?

  • Total votes: 145. You have voted on this poll.
Tangerine
 
43
30%
Simplii
 
61
42%
Alterna
 
12
8%
Motive
 
10
7%
Motusbank
 
3
2%
Other (did I miss any?)
 
16
11%
[OP]
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Jul 13, 2014
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[2019] What no-fee online bank is the way to go?

Update to this older thread.. now with more players

Right now I'm sticking with Simplii as my primary bank.
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99 replies
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May 8, 2009
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Primary into 2019 is Simplii, but debating between switching to Alterna Bank (for the reasons listed by @minimalist) or Motusbank.

Here are my thoughts...
Alterna Bank
  • can do a heck of a lot out of a HISA
  • Better Interest rate for savings/daily banking, free e-transfer from HISA
  • no fee chequebooks, no uLOC

Motusbank
  • closer to a substitute to Simplii, meaning an easier "switch"
  • only hassle is transfer savings to chequing to e-transfer (no fee), which is okay since e-transfers are done via online banking anyway
  • Best TFSA rates among those listed in poll in OP, so might take a TFSA there

My concern is whether Alterna Bank and/or Motusbank grant deposit limits based on credit worthiness. For Motive, they're real generous in deposit limits apparently. The 2.8% HISA is somewhat of a deep savings account since it's max two free external withdrawals per month. Not bad, but can't be used for frequent debit payments or e-transfers. Would have to do internal transfers too frequently.
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Aug 30, 2011
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@MayorOfToronto you're right, I make maybe one or two ATM transaction every month. It's just a matter of convenience whenever I need to deposit or withdraw cash. As someone with no car, I'd rather choose between the 4 banks (CIBC excluded) that are within walking distance, maybe 10 or 15 minutes max. The closest CIBC location being 2km away isn't even that accessible by public transit. It's like that for the closest CIBC branches I have, they're in weird places.

Maybe if August came and my Tangerine 3% HISA promo ended and Simplii has a promo. Only then I'd switch my savings to Simplii.
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Dec 17, 2008
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I have all those banks except Motusbank, and I chose Simplii because it has free cheques, free e-transfers, and access to CIBC ATM's which are readily available in my area. I also like that you can link 10 external accounts and set up recurring transfers and my hold limits are high enough I don't have to wait for funds release.

Tangerine would be my primary if they had free e-transfers, as I like the no fee overdraft, and in Manitoba there are Scotia ATM's in all our 7/11 stores. They give the first order of cheques free which is more than enough if they would give e-transfers for free. Again like simplii, they have good funds release limits.

Alterna bank is awesome in the sense that they have free e-transfers from the savings account, the savings account has a good rate, and you can pay bills and do PADs from the savings accounts. New accounts can be opened online, and it's fairly easy to bank with them. They have access to the Exchange network and the Acculink Network (this is what many credit unions use, and what all the Manitoba credit unions use). Alterna would be my primary bank if they didn't hold income bank to bank transfers from their end. They allow multiple external accounts to be linked, and the funds hold policy on ATM deposits, and mobile cheque deposits are reasonable, but they don't apply to pulling funds by bank to bank transfer unlike Simplii and Tangerine, and for that reason I haven't made them my primary bank. Yes I know I could push the funds from Simplii or Tangerine (and I do) or accept e-transfers..but they don't have autodeposit yet which is a minor annoyance, and their APP is the standard central1 credit union app, so hoping something better is coming soon as per their website.

Motive FInancial I was planning on closing my accounts last fall, but then they decided to become competitive and they have the best savings account rate in Canada at the moment. They also have free e-transfers on the chequing account, so you can transfer from Savings to Chequing to do e-transfers. An extra step, but it works. I have a couple of savings accounts there, but I don't use it day to day, I use the Alterna savings account for that purpose.

Motusbank just launched today and it looks very similar to Alterna Bank with allowing bill payments and PADs on the savings account, but it will also allow point of sale on the savings, something Alterna does not. However like Motive you will have to transfer from savings to chequing if you want free e-transfers. SInce they just launched, I am going to wait and see what they do over the next few months and then I may or may not open accounts with them.
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[OP]
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Jul 13, 2014
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Wow, you guys really thought this out.

The main reason I switched from Tangerine to Simplii is simply because the Simplii app and website are both so much easier to use lol

Tangerine's latest app is a disaster and their latest website design is more flash than actual function.
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May 7, 2007
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Tangerine for the win! (in a long run) :)

Simplii's promos come and go ... and then it's a regular rate ... while with Tangerine one can generally call them (or have their Outbound Task Force call you) and negotiate a higher / promo rate (when your most current promo comes to an end).
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Dec 16, 2017
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Honestly they're all somewhat equal.
Alterna is definitely on lower edge (compared to Motive) due to ATM deposit hold, cheque hold and discrimination pull vs push.
You don't need Alterna if having Motive.

Tangerine is good for everything. Except no eTransfer - minor anyway. Still, nicer to have one.
Simplii - overall good, except being held back by CIBC's troublesome procedure (ext acct link and new acct opening) Free cheques and free eTransfer kinda save their face (still, I don't like how they discriminate against pull vs push)

In the end, IDK what's the deal w/ people trying to conduct chequing transactions out of savings. As if they want everything for free in their favor.
A simple mobile transfer works that easy. nickled and dimed for every penny on your daily interest?
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Nov 8, 2017
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CIBC Loc

No fees unless you go in the red, plus you have branch access

#win
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Oct 8, 2012
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Simpliii's UI and transfer wait times are a no go for me.
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Jan 23, 2019
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Write-in vote for "Other" (EQ Bank).

It's a 2.3% savings account that does everything I need from a chequing account 99% of the time. Deposit pay directly into. Pre-auth payments out of. Pay bills directly out of. Free unlimited Interac e-Transfers. No actual cheques or ATM/Debit card payment access, but I don't need those more than maybe once a month or less, and when I do I use Simplii for the free cheques.

Tangerine used to be #1 but I can't stand their new interface, and still no free Interac e-Transfers.
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kevdanga wrote: Simpliii's UI and transfer wait times are a no go for me.
Which transfer wait times? The 1-day delay from savings to chequing? That was a no-go and annoying for me too, but they got rid of that a long time ago now (months and months ago, if not year+ ?)
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RaymondReddington wrote: Which transfer wait times? The 1-day delay from savings to chequing? That was a no-go and annoying for me too, but they got rid of that a long time ago now (months and months ago, if not year+ ?)
Yeah, exactly that. That's fine that they've changed the policy, still no real motivation to rejoin.
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Shawguy wrote: I have all those banks except Motusbank, and I chose Simplii because it has free cheques, free e-transfers, and access to CIBC ATM's which are readily available in my area. I also like that you can link 10 external accounts and set up recurring transfers and my hold limits are high enough I don't have to wait for funds release.

Tangerine would be my primary if they had free e-transfers, as I like the no fee overdraft, and in Manitoba there are Scotia ATM's in all our 7/11 stores. They give the first order of cheques free which is more than enough if they would give e-transfers for free. Again like simplii, they have good funds release limits.

Alterna bank is awesome in the sense that they have free e-transfers from the savings account, the savings account has a good rate, and you can pay bills and do PADs from the savings accounts. New accounts can be opened online, and it's fairly easy to bank with them. They have access to the Exchange network and the Acculink Network (this is what many credit unions use, and what all the Manitoba credit unions use). Alterna would be my primary bank if they didn't hold income bank to bank transfers from their end. They allow multiple external accounts to be linked, and the funds hold policy on ATM deposits, and mobile cheque deposits are reasonable, but they don't apply to pulling funds by bank to bank transfer unlike Simplii and Tangerine, and for that reason I haven't made them my primary bank. Yes I know I could push the funds from Simplii or Tangerine (and I do) or accept e-transfers..but they don't have autodeposit yet which is a minor annoyance, and their APP is the standard central1 credit union app, so hoping something better is coming soon as per their website.

Motive FInancial I was planning on closing my accounts last fall, but then they decided to become competitive and they have the best savings account rate in Canada at the moment. They also have free e-transfers on the chequing account, so you can transfer from Savings to Chequing to do e-transfers. An extra step, but it works. I have a couple of savings accounts there, but I don't use it day to day, I use the Alterna savings account for that purpose.

Motusbank just launched today and it looks very similar to Alterna Bank with allowing bill payments and PADs on the savings account, but it will also allow point of sale on the savings, something Alterna does not. However like Motive you will have to transfer from savings to chequing if you want free e-transfers. SInce they just launched, I am going to wait and see what they do over the next few months and then I may or may not open accounts with them.
I'm able to do POS with my Alterna eSavings. Haven't tried recently but have done so in the past.
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User455957 wrote: CIBC Loc

No fees unless you go in the red, plus you have branch access

#win
RaymondReddington wrote: Write-in vote for "Other" (EQ Bank).

It's a 2.3% savings account that does everything I need from a chequing account 99% of the time. Deposit pay directly into. Pre-auth payments out of. Pay bills directly out of. Free unlimited Interac e-Transfers. No actual cheques or ATM/Debit card payment access, but I don't need those more than maybe once a month or less, and when I do I use Simplii for the free cheques.

Tangerine used to be #1 but I can't stand their new interface, and still no free Interac e-Transfers.
This.

I voted other, I believe the combination of EQ bank and a no fee bank that's convenient for you is best. Even better if cibc is convenient to you for the loc suggestion.

Here's what I do.
-Salary comes into tangerine
-move to eq back except for a small amount for a few debit transactions
-if I need cash, interac the amount to cibc loc or tangerine if Scotia atm is closer.
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@RaymondReddington I thought EQ was five free e-transfers per month.

@Shawguy that's very informative, thank you. Big question...no way to get deposit limits at Alterna Bank? Motusbank thread indicates that 90 days in, account holders get $1.5k deposit limits (very generous for new accounts). Like you, I have $5k deposit limits at Simplii, so I suppose I could use Simplii as backup if I switch daily banking to Motusbank for those few instances where I'd have to pull larger amounts. Does Alterna Bank hold funds on direct deposit as well (payroll)?

I think Motusbank is fairly competitive. A welcome bonus would surely sweeten the deal, but I'm thinking it's the closest direct substitute to Simplii out there right now.
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Jun 11, 2015
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RaymondReddington wrote: Write-in vote for "Other" (EQ Bank).

It's a 2.3% savings account that does everything I need from a chequing account 99% of the time. Deposit pay directly into. Pre-auth payments out of. Pay bills directly out of. Free unlimited Interac e-Transfers. No actual cheques or ATM/Debit card payment access, but I don't need those more than maybe once a month or less, and when I do I use Simplii for the free cheques.

Tangerine used to be #1 but I can't stand their new interface, and still no free Interac e-Transfers.
Agreed. EQ is great.

Wouldn't keep my money with Tangerine or Simplii.
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titaniumtux wrote: @RaymondReddington I thought EQ was five free e-transfers per month.

@Shawguy that's very informative, thank you. Big question...no way to get deposit limits at Alterna Bank? Motusbank thread indicates that 90 days in, account holders get $1.5k deposit limits (very generous for new accounts). Like you, I have $5k deposit limits at Simplii, so I suppose I could use Simplii as backup if I switch daily banking to Motusbank for those few instances where I'd have to pull larger amounts. Does Alterna Bank hold funds on direct deposit as well (payroll)?

I think Motusbank is fairly competitive. A welcome bonus would surely sweeten the deal, but I'm thinking it's the closest direct substitute to Simplii out there right now.
EQ bank has unlimited etransfers as of March 1.

Alterna releases a certain amount of funds if deposited at the ATM or if through the mobile app. It's based on credit worthiness to my understanding. They hold me to me transfers when pulled from their side for 5 days. There is no hold on pushing from another bank to Alterna or direct deposits.
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martydxb wrote: This.

I voted other, I believe the combination of EQ bank and a no fee bank that's convenient for you is best. Even better if cibc is convenient to you for the loc suggestion.

Here's what I do.
-Salary comes into tangerine
-move to eq back except for a small amount for a few debit transactions
-if I need cash, interac the amount to cibc loc or tangerine if Scotia atm is closer.
I used to do that basically, but I found the hold on the transfer at EQ can be annoying, even if you don't need the money but just want to move it between subaccounts EQ doesn't let you if it is held ... so I deposit pay to EQ directly and Interac e-Transfer out to wherever to replace occasional ATM usage. I can't remember the last time I used an ATM ... probably once in February. Debit usage even longer ago ... maybe last summer?
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RaymondReddington wrote: ... so I deposit pay to EQ directly and Interac e-Transfer out to wherever to replace occasional ATM usage. ....
I too was tempted to do that but the major outage in (2018?) I am too freaked out to try that. :)
This is the only reason I send my paycheque to Tangerine as featureless as they are, at least they are reliable.
What I do is I pull into EQ if I have no immediate use for the funds as far as I can think of.
If there's a doubt I am going to need those funds then I push to EQ bank from Tang.

Motus is an ok solution for this, you trade off .05% in exchange for using the same system for ATM and cheque writing access if that's what you need. Personally Im sticking with EQ bank and interacting to CIBC or Tangerine accordingly.
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Shawguy wrote: EQ bank has unlimited etransfers as of March 1.

Alterna releases a certain amount of funds if deposited at the ATM or if through the mobile app. It's based on credit worthiness to my understanding. They hold me to me transfers when pulled from their side for 5 days. There is no hold on pushing from another bank to Alterna or direct deposits.
So there are deposit limits, but not for "me to me" pulls at Alterna Bank? Strange. I'm wondering whether Motusbank would be any different. Deposit limits at Simplii apply equally for me to me pulls as to cheque deposits.

Good to know about EQ. Was always trying to stay under the five monthly limit on free e-transfers.
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